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tv   House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff on Impeachment Inquiry Report  CSPAN  December 3, 2019 8:34pm-8:55pm EST

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of harvard law school, stanford law school, the university of north carolina school of law, the george washington university law school. follow the impeachment inquiry. online at on c-span3, c-span.org, or on the three c-span radio app -- free c-span radio app. announcer: on tuesday, the house intelligence committee released reporteachment inquiry on president trump in ukraine based on evidence collected during depositions and two weeks of public hearings. adam schiff discussed the report at a news conference that took place a few hours before the committee went on to adopt the findings by a party line vote of 13-9.
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>> it was an enormous task, and i want to begin by acknowledging the great work of the great and late colleague of mine, elijah cummings. we continue to be inspired by his legacy, and guided by andghts of his integrity
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the great moral clarity he always showed in his work. i also want to thank chairman engel, maloney, for their work as well. this effort coerced an ally, ukraine, into doing the president's political dirty work. it involves a scheme in which donald trump withheld official acts as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in needed military assistance in order to compel that power to deliver to investigations that he believed would assist his reelection campaign. and i want to underscore just how important that white house meeting was to ukraine. reformer asa new its president, president zelensky. a meeting with the most of one patron of ukraine in the oval
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office gary sick -- carries enormous significant to the people of ukraine, but equally important to russia. the military assistance has also absolutely -- is also absolutely essential. as president zelensky goes into negotiations with vladimir putin, the fact that the u.s. is providing substantial military assistance approved on a bipartisan basis by congress is enormously important. the withholding of that aid even period of time since a disastrous message that the united states does not have the back of its ally. these were things that ukraine desperately wanted and needed. at the same time, there was something president trump desperately wanted and believed he needed. that was an investigation that rival he feared
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the most, joe biden, as well as an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that it was ukraine, not russia, that interfered in our last election. , which isiracy theory often summarized or characterized by the term probe strike, that conspiracy theory is a russian narrative. that is a conspiracy theory put out, promulgated, by vladimir putin. to deflect attention away from russia's interference in our own elections, and to try to drive a wedge between the united states and the nation of ukraine. so that's what the president wanted. these two sham investigations. one into joe biden, also debunked and discredited. that sham investigative theory -- but also into this idea that ukraine interfered now election, -- interfered in our election, not russia. he was willing to sacrifice the national security of the united states by withholding military
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aid and diplomatic recognition in the form of the white house meeting in order to get what he wanted. that scheme, however, was discovered. because among other things, a courageous person stepped forward and blew the whistle. but also, because congress announced it would investigate the matter. once we began our investigation and once it became clear to the president and to the white house that this was going to become public, this scheme was going to become public, only then did the president of the united states release the military aid, and as for that white house meeting that ukraine so desperately sought, that has still not happened to this day. now, what does this mean for americans? why should they care about what the president did vis-a-vis ukraine? why should they care about ukraine? first of all, this is not about ukraine. this is about our democracy. this is about our national security. this is about whether the american people have a right to expect that the president of the united states is going to act in
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their interests, with their security in mind, and not for some ill list personal or political reason. so americans should care deeply about whether the president of the united states is betraying their trust in him. betraying that oath that he took to the constitution to protect our country. and defend its institutions. so, we should care about this. we must care about this. and if we don't care about this, we can darn well be assured the president will be back at it, doing this all over again. because indeed, he already has. first, there was the invitation to russia to interfere in our last election, russia, if you're listening, hack hillary's emails, and indeed, later that day, they tried to do exactly that. but then there was the use of this official power to compel another country, ukraine, to interfere in the 2020 election. and even after, even after our
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investigation began, even after the impeachment inquiry began, there was president donald trump out on the white house lawn, once again making it abundantly clear that he wanted ukraine to investigate the bidens. and what's more, he wanted other countries to interfere in our election, as well. and that china should also investigate the bidens. this is the result of a president who believes he is beyond indictment, beyond impeachment, beyond any form of accountability, and indeed above the law. and that is a very dangerous thing for this country. to have an unethical president who believes they're above the law. the question now is, what does congress do about this? one of the other very important elements of our report today, which goes beyond the president's misconduct with ukraine, goes to the president's obstruction of the congress. of a co-equal branch of government.
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and i want to underscore also the seriousness of this misconduct. because the president informed every department for which we sought records, the state department, the office of management and budget, which has the records about the with holding of the aid, the defense department, his own white house personnel, to refuse to turn over a single document in answer to congressional subpoenas. the president instructed witnesses not to appear. the president used his office and his bully pulpit to try to intimidate witnesses. if the congress allows a president who so fully and blankedlyte -- obstructs the work of congress even involves an impeachment investigation into the president's own misconduct, then we are begging for more of the same. we are signaling to any future president that can engage in whatever corruption, malfeasance
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-- whatever corruption, malfeasance, or negligence and they are beyond accountability. and to my g.o.p. colleague, they need to consider that when we have a democratic president, are they willing to say in answer to their oversight that a president may simply refuse? because if they are and if we do, it will mean that the balance of power between our branches of government will be fundamentally altered and altered for the worse. it will mean that future corruption, malfeasance, and incompetence will be far more likely than it is today. the facts here are really not seriously contested. indeed, the testimony of the witnesses was remarkably consistent. and you might be forgiven having watched the hearings and watched the reaction of the members of the two parties to the testimony of these witnesses if you thought they were two different hearings going on at the same time. this points out another danger that the founding fathers were
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all too aware of, and that's is the danger of excessive factionalism. that is that a political party may become so wedded to a president of their own party that they're unwilling to do their constitutional duty. but i firmly believe that if one party relinquishes its responsibility to the constitution and their oath, it does not relieve us of our obligation to the same. and i hope that every member of the house and the senate, whether these proceedings go forward in the house or they don't, will keep in mind their duty as to the constitution. not to the person of the president. that ought to be our guiding principal. finally, i think what's presented to us here is really
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so aptly summed up in what the president's own chief of staff had to say when he informed the country that, yes, indeed, they had with held military aid to get this political investigation. he told us to get over it. to get over it. that is what the president does. we should just get over it. this is essentially what he was saying. that we need to just get used to the idea of a corrupt president and get over it. and so, we will have to decide, given that the evidence of this misconduct is so clear and uncontested, are we prepared to just get over it? are we prepared to say that henceforth, we must expect from this president and those that follow that there will be a certain amount of corruption in which the national security of the country will be compromised, in which which the oath of the office will mean that much less, in which the belief in the
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rule of law and the united -- in the united states will be that much less, is that what we're simply to get over or get used to? well, i, for one, don't think we should get over this, i don't think we should get used to this -- don't think we should get used to this, i don't think that's what the founds of the country had in mind. indeed, i think that when they prescribed a remedy, kind of conduct by a president of the united states putting his own personal political interests above the interests of the american people was exactly why they prescribed a remedy as extraordinary as the remedy of impeachment. and so, we have a very difficult decision ahead of us to make. and i have every confidence that the judiciary committee in consultation with the entire caucus and our leadership will not only receive this report as well as the reports of others,
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and make a proper demmings about what articles of impeachment are warranted. with that, i'm happy to respond to questions. reporter: when did you obtain the cellphone records that are in this report? and what do they tell you that you didn't learn otherwise? schiff: i can't go into the speves of dates in which we obtained certain evidence or indeed whether we obtained communications from one or multiple parties. but certainly, the phone records show that there was considerable coordination among the parties, including the white house. coordination in the smear campaign against ambassador yovanovitch, which cleared the way for "the three amigos" to take over the ukraine policy, coordination in execution of that policy, and this was indead a continuum that began prior to the recall of the ambassador. now, your question gets to a very important point, which is,
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there is more investigative work to be done. one of the issues that we are looking into is, did this scheme begin far earlier than we first understood? was this scheme, in fact, put in place to try to pressure the last president of ukraine and his corrupt prosecutor general into conducting these same investigations? and, was that plan put into turmoil and chaos when this new reformer, zelensky, surged in the polling and ultimately won that presidency? that's something we continue to investigate. and that is something that these phone records also shed light on. but even as we believe that, we cannot wait, because the president's efforts to secure intervention in the next election persist, we continue our investigation and we will. reporter: just to be clear, it sounds like you support impeaching the president.
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do you support impeaching and the senate removing him from office? chairman schiff: i'm going to reserve any kind of public judgment on that until i have a chance to consult with my colleagues, with our leadership, and i think this really needs to be a decision that we all make as a body. so, i'm going to continue to reserve judgment. but as you can tell, i am gravely concerned that if we merely accept this, that we invite not only further corruption of our elections by this president, but we also invite it of the next president. so i am keenly aware of the significance of the precedent we set in whatever direction we move. and i am also very strongly guided by the fact that one of the seminal moments in this scheme took place the day after bob mueller testified, the day after donald trump thought the last investigation was over, he began the next significant step in a new course of misconduct.
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reporter: do you feel like presenting the strongest possible case here to the judiciary committee, or would the case be stronger if you had more time to do the investigation? chairman schiff: i want to say a couple of things, first of all, we continue to investigate whether this scheme began earlier than expected, whether the scheme also involved the last president of ukraine. but look, we have provided overwhelming evidence in this report of a scheme to pressure the current president of ukraine to conduct these political investigations. will it move others if we're able to show that this was not the first time, this was the second time? i think what we have produced in remarkable short order is so overwhelming, it ought to be presented to the judiciary committee now without any further delay.
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if we do uncover additional evidence, and we do learn more every day, we will feel free to file supplemental reports to the judiciary committee, but there is, i think, grave risk to the country with waiting until we have every last fact. when we already know enough about the president's misconduct to make a responsibility -- a responsible judgment about whether we think that's compatible with the office of the presidency. reporter: do the phone records cast doubt on anything you've heard from witnesses or anything the president has said publicly? chairman schiff: no, they don't. at least, that i can identify at this moment. i think the phone records are remarkably consistent with the coordination of a lot of this scheme. now, we obviously don't have complete phone records, and some of the phone records are deeply suggestive of who the parties they were talking to,
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particularly in the white house or office of management and budget. but because of the president's effort to stonewall investigation, including not turn over their own phone records, not only to us but witnesses like sondland who asked for them, we don't have all the answers. but we do know this without any doubt. and that is, the president of the united states solicited foreign interference in our election, and used the power of his office, the power to convene a meeting in the oval office, the power to provide or withhold hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to an ally at war, to get his political dirty work done. the only question is, how much more, how more extensive was the scheme, how many others may have been involved, what was the full knowledge and participation of other parties? and while we intend to get answers to those questions and let the american people know the full facts, we do not intend to delay when the integrity of the next election is still at risk. reporter: last question.
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mr. chairman, your report mentioned call records involving ranking member nunes. did you speak to him or inquire about those with his office? and, do you believe he should recuse himself later today on this vote? and do you and your staff plan to present this report to the judiciary committee? chairman schiff: the rules provided by the judiciary committee provide that our staff counsel will present the report to the committee, so that's that's what we expect to take place. in terms of ranking member, it won't surprise you, i'm going to reserve comment. it is, i think, deeply concerning that at a time when the president of the united states was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival, that there may be evidence that there were members of congress complicit in that activity. now, there's a lot more to learn about that, and i don't want to state that that is an unequivocal fact, but the allegations are deeply
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concerning. our focus is on the president's conduct, first and foremost. it may be the role of others to evaluate the conduct of members of congress. thank you very much. announcer: house republican leaders also spoke to reporters about the impeachment inquiry report as members of the intelligence committee were voting behind closed doors on whether to adopt the full findings. his news conference is 25 minutes. -- this news conference is 25 minutes. >> hello, everybody. welcome back. i hope you all had a nice thanksgiving. we are back now, as you all ,

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